Few have doubted Joshua Dobbs’ ability to be electric with his feet, his knack to make some timely throws or the way he can flip the switch and play well in stretches against virtually anybody.
Accuracy, however, has been a nagging issue that has held Dobbs back at times in his career. That was never more on display than in UT’s loss at South Carolina on Oct. 29 when Dobbs was at his worst – completing just 46.2 percent of his passes in an ugly game.
And while he can’t take that performance out of the record books, he has been on a historic run since that point.
Since that game in Columbia, Dobbs finished the regular season 69-of-86 (80.2%) for 969 yards, 11 touchdowns, one interception and added 393 yards of rushing with four more touchdowns on the ground. That stretch was punctuated with a 31-of-34 performance against Vanderbilt for 340 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns in the loss. Twice in this four-game stretch he completed 11 straight passes in a single game (Vandy and Tennessee Tech).
His 31 completions against Vandy was a career high. During this stretch, he became UT’s all-time leading quarterback rusher, topped his own school record for QB rushing yards in a season (713), reached second in school history in total touchdowns accounted for and became just the fourth player in UT history to top 3,000 yards of total offense in a season.
Yes, the level of competition down the stretch – Tech, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt – wasn’t overly impressive. But it’s tough to ask much more of a quarterback against anybody.
And asked about the pressure to try and score every time because of the defensive struggles, Dobbs didn’t throw anybody under the bus.
“Pressure is just what you impose on yourself, so there’s no pressure,” he said following the loss at Vanderbilt, a game in which the defense gave up 45 points. “You just have to go out and execute and we did that in between the 20s, progressing the ball. We just didn’t finish in the red zone and that’s on us, not capitalizing on the opportunities we had.”
There’s plenty of buzz surrounding the future of the position for Tennessee after Dobbs moves on following this season. Quinten Dormady certainly has the potential to be an upgrade as a pure passer. Jarrett Guarantano might be as dynamic, if not more so, than Dobbs. But the final four-game stretch of 2016, even with the loss to Vanderbilt, should serve as a reminder that Dobbs shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The numbers he put up will be tough to replicate.